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Quintet, David Blum

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Quintet, David Blum

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Quintet, David Blum

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Quintet presents compelling portraits of five artists known and loved by aficionados of classical music: the cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the conductor Jeffrey Tate, the violinist Josef Gingold, the pianist Richard Goode, and the opera singer Birgit Nilsson. This gracefully written book offers a deeply personal look at the lives of these immensely talented and hard-working performers. The essays grew out of conversations the musicians had with the late David Blum, who was himself distinguished both as a conductor and as an author of books and articles on musical subjects.Certain to delight music enthusiasts, Quintet is a perfect holiday gift.


From Library Journal

The late conductor-turned-journalist Blum was one of the most articulate of all contemporary writers on music. These extended portraits of five musical luminaries--Yo Yo Ma, Jeffrey Tate, Josef Gingold, Richard Goode, and Birgit Nilsson--first appeared in The New Yorker and the New York Times and are all remarkable documents about remarkable people. The first chapter on Ma provides readers with a fascinating glimpse of the cellist. Among the most moving chapters are those on Tate, who overcame severe physical disabilities to become a world-class conductor, and Gingold, a Russian ?migr? who rose from poverty to become a revered concert master and teacher. Blum's pieces rely on conversations with his subjects and extensive interviews with their relatives, friends, and associates. His own personality is unobtrusive, yet his keen musical intelligence runs like a thread throughout. Recommended for public and college libraries.
-Larry A. Lipkis, Moravian Coll., Bethlehem, PA 
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

The classical musician's life can seem sublime, a matter of expressing beauty every day. As Blum presents the lives of cellist Yo-Yo Ma, conductor Jeffrey Tate, concertmaster Josef Gingold, pianist Richard Goode, and soprano Birgit Nilsson, they don't contradict that presumed sublimity. All five speak happily and wonderingly about the music that means the most to them: for Ma, Bach's unaccompanied cello suites; for Goode, Schubert's last sonatas; for Nilsson, Wagner's operas; for Tate and Gingold, the symphonic and chamber core repertoires. Of course, each has had to cope with personal foibles and incapacities; for instance, Ma was a foolhardy youngster, and Tate has been severely disabled from birth. But each is pleased to be engaged with music, and all consider themselves figures in a historical continuum of musical performance that is, like the pieces they play, greater than themselves. Moreover, each is a teacher of young musicians; indeed, Gingold is an acknowledged titan among violin teachers. Blum's profiles of them, organized as a book just before his death, are like five lovely songs. Ray Olson

From Kirkus Reviews

Inspired by an interviewer trusted as a confidant, five world-class musicians help him sketch engrossing self-portraits. Orchestra founder Blum (Casals and the Art of Interpretation, not reviewed) knows that ``a person with artistic gifts will usually develop in one of two ways: as an artist at the expense of others, or as a human being at the expense of art.'' Yet his forthcoming subjects reveal how, despite diverse trials, they avoided either trap. Soprano Birgit Nilsson overcame voice-damaging instructors. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma, son of traditional Chinese parents, had to tame his own Americanized teenage wildness. Russian- born violinist Josef Gingold, longtime Cleveland Orchestra concertmaster, writhed under cruelty as an immigrant boy. Pianist Richard Goode, celebrated for his Schubert and Beethoven, still wrestles with dire stage fright. Jeffrey Tate, certified as a doctor, turned full-time conductor only after pain from his deformed spine acted like a ``refiner's fire.'' As these highly accomplished performers reflect unpretentiously on their core musical experiences, Blum weaves in commentary from colleagues and partners, cherishing the incidental humanizing touch: Goode heading for a campus concert, a bag of books and scores on his back, still the student; devoted teacher Gingold's ``jealous mistress'' of a violin challenging him each morning: I dare you''; Nilsson, known for her aquavit wit, pausing at the local churchyard to water her parents' grave. Striving to cast sound into words, and laud towering talents without fawning, Blum occasionally turns grandiloquent, but he never obstructs our view as his sitters answer what must have been prescient questions with fluent candor. The authors illness precluded updating these previously published heroes' tales before his 1996 death; this memorial would have benefited from a current discography. As good writers about art should, Blum sends the reader back to the works afreshseeking these five interpreters as mentors. (5 b&w photos) -- Copyright ©2000, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.


David Blum works for as the editor of Kindle Singles, the store for original, high-quality longform fiction and nonfiction on Kindle. He began his career as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, and has worked as a contributing editor at New York Magazine (where he coined the term "Brat Pack"), Esquire and The New York Times Magazine. He has also written for The New Republic, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. In 2006 Blum became editor-in-chief of The Village Voice, and later served as editor-in-chief of the New York Press and 02138 Magazine.

Blum's first book, "Flash In The Pan: The Life and Death of an American Restaurant," was published by Simon & Schuster in 1992, and was named a notable nonfiction book of the year by The New York Times Book Review. His second book, "Tick...Tick...Tick...: The Long Life & Turbulent Times of 60 Minutes," was published by HarperCollins in 2004.